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For millions who have lost jobs or faced eviction in the economic downturn, homelessness is perhaps the darkest fear of all.

Nevertheless, from 2007 through 2009, the number of families in homeless shelters — households with at least one adult and one minor child — leapt to 170,000 from 131,000, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

With long-term unemployment ballooning, those numbers could easily climb this year. Late in 2009, however, states began distributing $1.5 billion that has been made available over three years by the federal government as part of the stimulus package for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which provides financial assistance to keep people in their homes or get them back in one quickly if they lose them.

I came across this information when researching the rise in families in shelters due to our economy.  I had not heard of the Homeless Prevention Program until then.  If you are homeless, or know someone who is, or you are on the verge of homelessness, contact your local agency located here.  No one should be without help or hope.

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